It seems that we’ve done it again. We’ve ruined our chances with yet another child. Our last hope, too.
We’ve created yet another adventure-seeker, lost to mountains —different mountains this time, but the mountains have won yet again. You’d think we’d have broken the code. This afternoon I remembered my vow to never take this last one further than the Jersey shore in order to make certain that his definition of adventure would be the rollercoaster on the boardwalk. It isn’t meant to be, though. It’s my own fault. I saw it happen today.
Joshua Tree National Park is the home of fantastic boulder formations of varied size, color and stone, begging to be climbed. Ten years old, this boy-child is not new to climbing, but this was different. Yesterday we were both tentative and he circled back regularly, not venturing too far. Confident in his abilities, today I set him loose. I encouraged him to strike out further…and then he did.
He zoomed far and wide, running seemingly straight up walls, leaping over crevices, slipping and sliding. Occasionally he lost his footing. Once he traveled so far so quickly, he found himself outside of both eye and ear-shot. He used his reasoning and found his way back. My heart felt the moment he was lost, but my head knew that he is bright and capable and would be back in just a few minutes—which he was. Then he raced off again, faster, higher, and further than even moments before. That was when I knew.
We have another adventurer. Squinting into the sun in an attempt to track him, years of parallel sensations of the tenuous thread of control that is parenting shuffled through my mind. Hiking a gorge in Greece was the moment when I felt our older children shift. All three of them eventually took on adventures far from home and not without risk. I miss them. I worry about them. This distance, this letting go--it is the worst of parenting. It is the best of parenting. And now it begins…again.